Melissa Serpico’s Pilsen studio is warm and inviting. Sun streams through the tall windows, U2 plays in the background and design tools lay on tables in a disheveled organization. It’s a space that allows creativity to flourish, and this local fashion designer’s creative juices have been running rampant. Her collections have been the talk of the town, thanks to a successful showing at Fashion Focus as well as a string of trunk shows across Chicago. I head to her studio to see what all the fuss is about, and I am granted a guided tour of her exquisite fall collection.
She holds up a black silk blouse with a taffeta flower attached, and I marvel at the fabric contrast. Italian brocade, silk organza, leather, patent leather—no material is off-limits to Serpico, who credits the boldness of her ideas to her graphic-design background. She graduated from Loyola with a design degree and took a job at a local firm, soon discovering the nine-to-five job wasn’t for her. “I couldn’t work at a desk. I was much more interested in working with my hands,” she says. After the company went bankrupt, Serpico’s wish was granted. She enrolled at the School of the Art Institute for fashion design, graduated in May 2006, and just over a year later, this fall, she was unveiling her first collection.
She shows me a fitted off-white sweater with thick black yarn woven through in large curlicues, then a black cotton tee with patent-leather detailing. Her clothing is wearable, but with intricate details that make them couture-ish, which is just what her clientele wants. “I’m targeting women who don’t follow the trends,” she says, “who want to wear clothing that is exciting to them. And by keeping things classic customers will stick around.”
I’m officially a Serpico convert when I try on a silver-and-cream Italian brocade cropped jacket. The fit, the fabric—it seems as though it was made just for me, a rarity in a world of mass-produced clothing. With this gift, Serpico seems poised to build a life-long fan base. The neutral colors, perfect cuts and plenty of dress up/dress down versatility mean her designs flatter anyone from ages 19-90. And the quality of the hundred-percent natural fabrics, plus the sleek, timeless designs, mean that Serpico’s pieces will hang in closets for years to come. (Molly Each)
Stop by Serpico’s studio at 1932 South Halsted, Suite 202, on November 9 during the Pilsen Second Fridays event, or check out her Web site for more information, www.serpico-collection.com